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Originally published Friday, September 15, 2006 at 12:00 AM

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Movie Review

"Everyone's Hero": Quest for a bat makes small Yankee a hero

There's something about the 1932 Chicago Cubs-New York Yankees World Series that compels fictional boys to head for Wrigley Field in the...

Special to The Seattle Times

There's something about the 1932 Chicago Cubs-New York Yankees World Series that compels fictional boys to head for Wrigley Field in the era of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

Dan Gutman's "Babe & Me" finds a contemporary boy traveling through time to ascertain whether the Babe, a Yankee, called his home-run shot (as legend has it) in the fifth inning of Game Three.

Now the animated "Everyone's Hero" features a lad from the Babe's era crossing a thousand miles to return the big man's bat to him during Game Seven.

Little Yankee Irving (voiced by Jake T. Austin) is the runt of sandlot baseball in his New York City neighborhood. His dad, Stanley (Mandy Patinkin), is a custodian at Yankee Stadium, and it's on his watch that Ruth's bat, called "Darlin'," is stolen by the unscrupulous Cubs' pitcher, Lefty Maginnis (William H. Macy).

Movie review 2.5 stars

Showtimes and trailer

"Everyone's Hero," with the voices of Jake T. Austin, William H. Macy, Mandy Patinkin, Brian Dennehy, Dana Reeve, Whoopi Goldberg, Rob Reiner. Directed by Christopher Reeve, Colin Brady and Dan St. Pierre, from a screenplay by Robert Kurt, Jeff Hand and Howard Jonas. 87 minutes. Rated G. Several theaters.

Stanley loses his job over the theft, but it's his son who runs away to get Darlin' back to Ruth (Brian Dennehy) and restore his father's reputation. Yankee has some exciting adventures on his way to the Windy City, including a joyful ride with a team from the Negro Leagues.

It's all good fun, but the film really only works if one buys its more awkward elements. For one thing, Darlin' the bat speaks (Whoopi Goldberg, sounding like a Kentucky belle), as does Yankee's baseball, Screwie (Rob Reiner doing a Borscht Belt weisenheimer).

There's also the matter of Yankee getting an unlikely shot at history in Game Seven, arguably stretching the story's integrity.

"Everyone's Hero" was partially produced and directed by the late Christopher Reeve. His wife, Dana Reeve, who died earlier this year, was also a producer and provided the voice of Yankee's mother. The film's baseball-themed message certainly resonates with the couple's legacy: When everything seems hopeless, "keep on swinging."

Tom Keogh:

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